Dominated to the end: Starting from the polar position, Charles Leklerk (Ferrari) flew over the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, marking the abandonment of world champion Max Verstappen (Red Bull), the announced contender for the title.
Monaco Mexican Sergio Perez (Red Bull), 2nd and Britain’s George Russell (Mercedes) dominated the Albert Park Trail in Melbourne this weekend with 420,000 visitors.
Quebecer Lance Stroll finishes 12th at Aston Martin
For the fourth win of his career – the second this season after the opening round in Bahrain – Leklerk also set the fastest time in the race.
“What a car today! This weekend, we were very strong, the tires were better. I’m so happy. It’s incredible to win here,” the winner said as he finished.
To continue: “We are only in the third race, so it’s hard to think of a championship, but we have a very strong and reliable car. It’s very good to get back to this level”.
In the championship, Leklerk is now 71 points ahead of Jorge Russell (37), his Spanish teammate Carlos Sine Jr. (33) and Sergio Perez (30). Verstappen was relegated to 6th place with 25 points, behind Lewis Hamilton (28).
Forced to retire due to a mechanical malfunction, Verstappen, in 39 of 58 scheduled rounds, signed into poor performance over the weekend, finishing 3rd in the championship ahead of Australia.
“We have to finish the races. Today was a bad day. I was managing the tires. I could not fight Charles.”
Second, the position he held until his retirement, the Dutchman considers the situation “desperate” and says that “this kind of thing, if you want to fight for the title, is unacceptable”.
In Bahrain in mid-March, Verstappen already had to retire due to a malfunction, three rounds from the end, after which he won the next round over Leklerk in Saudi Arabia.
Another notable retiree, Leklerk’s teammate Carlos Science, is second in the list of drivers who came to Australia. The Spaniard had a weekend to forget: he finished 9th in the qualifying round and started on tough tires, losing control of his single seat from the start and ending his race stuck in a gravel pit.
With the exception of the Spaniard, Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin), who returned to action after missing the first two rounds due to Kovit, was forced to retire after colliding with a wall.
So the abandonment of Verstappen allows Britain to climb the third step of the George Russell stage. Second place for the reigning world champions after Hamilton’s 3rd place in Bahrain. Starting 5th, he finished 4th, a seven-time world champion.
Since the start of the season the team has had difficulty managing its original aerodynamic single seat, is this ranking synonymous with a quick return to the Silver Arrows lead? “We had a little luck today (…) but we’re taking it,” Russell said angrily.
“We have a lot of work to do to get us back on track. We will never give up, we were far behind, yet here we are on stage. If anyone can do it, it’s Mercedes,” he promised. He started in the third row (6th) of the GB next to Hamilton.
1. Charles Leklerk (MON / Ferrari), 306.124 km in 1 h 27: 46.548 (average: 209.254 km / h)
2. Sergio Perez (MEX / Red Bull-Honda) at 20.524
3. George Russell (GPR / Mercedes) 25.593
4. Lewis Hamilton (GPR / Mercedes) 28.543
5. Lando Norris (GBR / McLaren-Mercedes) 53.303
6. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS / McLaren-Mercedes) 53.737
7. Esteban Ocon (FRA / Alpine-Renault) at 1: 01.683
8. Voltaire Potas (FIN / Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari) at 1: 08.439
9. Pierre Gasly (FRA / AlphaTauri-Honda) at 1: 16.221
10. Alexander Alban (THA / Williams-Mercedes) at 1: 19.382
11. Zhou Guanyu (CHN / Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari) at 1: 21.695
12. Lance Stroll (CAN / Aston Martin-Mercedes) at 1: 28.598
13. Mick Schumacher (GER / Haas-Ferrari) 1 fold
14. Kevin Magnussen (Den / Haas-Ferrari) 1 fold
15. Yuki Sunoda (JPN / AlphaTauri-Honda) 1 fold
16. Nicholas Latifi (CAN / Williams-Mercedes) 1 fold
17. Fernando Alonso (ESP / Alpine-Renault) 1 step away
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